Thoughts on the Passage
Numbers are very important in the book of Revelation. Numbers show up everywhere. One key number is the number seven. The book of Revelation breaks down into seven sections. The letters go to the seven churches of the province of Asia (what is now southwest Turkey). The letter to each of the seven church breaks down into seven portions. Throughout Revelation we will see a series of numbers coming up again and again. These numbers include three, four, six, seven, twelve, twenty-four and one thousand. To the Jewish person, these numbers had very important meaning and they would always look for special meaning when these numbers show up. So I will be noting these numbers when they show up.
Again, there are seven churches and each letter from Jesus to each church contains seven parts. Here is the 7-fold pattern of each letter.
1. “To the angel [messenger] of the church of _______”
2. The vision of Jesus to them – a personal revelation
3. Jesus’ Insight on the Church – “I know your…”
4. Jesus’ Warning – “Nevertheless…”
5. Jesus’ Challenge to the Church
6. Jesus’ Promise to the Church – “to him who overcomes…”
7. “He who has an ear to hear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”
Why is seven so important? It is the number of completion to the Jewish person – like the seven days of creation. These letters represent the full message of Jesus to these churches. Even though the letters go to seven churches, all of the churches got all the letters. In other words, all the letters are to all the churches. There are other churches in this area (for example, Colossae has a church – Paul wrote the letter to the church in Colossae). The number seven represents completeness – so these letters were for all the churches even if they are not given an individual letter.
Finally, you will hear a lot of messages that take the book of Revelation and look at it from today’s perspective. We will do it differently. We will look at this book the way the early church saw it and understood it. Many people see the seven churches representing seven historical “seasons” of the church. It may mean that as well, but I will only be looking at it as actual messages to these churches. There is much that can be learned just from that. Actually, it is the correct foundation as we build an understanding of this book. If we understand what God was saying to the people reading this letter, then it produces a good foundation to understand how it relates to the future.
Time to Prayer
Father, when I read the Bible, I see You writing it for me. It may have been written to a church, an individual, a nation – but it is for me as well. Today, I look at these letters and I see myself in these letters, I see my weaknesses in these letters and I see Jesus speaking to me with the same measure of encouragement and hope that He gives to these people. As I read through this book, give me understanding so that I see the message that You are releasing to these people. Open this book to my understanding. It was meant to be understood. It was meant to be a blessing. It was meant to encourage Your people in difficult circumstances. So release that to us I pray. In Jesus Name, Amen.